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Nullarbor Plain Outback
Western Australia WA

The Eyre Highway is one of Australia's greatest road journeys. It is named after the explorer, Edward John Eyre, who in 1841 barely survived thirst, hunger and treachery by guides to make the first East-West crossing of the continent.

The entire length of the highway is bitumen and is extremely well signposted, with indications of the distance to the next town with petrol and other services.

The Western Australian section of the Highway begins at Border Village, which has a celebrated signpost giving directions to Paris, the South Pole and other rather improbable destinations. A further 12km west, is the town of Eucla.

Eucla was established as a telegraph station in 1877 as part of the link between East and West. Once it was one of the busiest, yet loneliest, stations in Australia. The modern township was located on the Hampton Escarpment after the original buildings were swallowed by sand dunes.

At night an illuminated cross dedicated to all Eyre Highway travellers looks down onto the ruins of old Eucla from the escarpment above.

Travelling from Eucla the road passes through Mundrabilla then onto Madura. It is here that the Highway again climbs to the Escarpment allowing a magnificent view and then continues to Cocklebiddy.

In 1984, a world diving record was set at Cocklebiddy Cave, 12 kilometres north of the Highway on an accessible road. Also of interest in the area is the Eyre Bird Observatory (four-wheel drive vehicles only).

Between Caiguna and Balladonia travel along one of the longest straight stretches of road in the world, 145km. East of Balladonia Hotel and Service Station, visit the Balladonia Station Homestead and see a gallery of oil paintings depicting the history of Balladonia and the Eyre Highway. Tours can be arranged between 9.00am and 4.30pm daily (WA time). Tel (090) 393 456.

After Balladonia and its century old stone fences, the Highway traverses the hilly and undulating country surrounding the Fraser Range. From there it is only a short drive to Norseman, where the Eyre Highway terminates.

From the South Australian side, the trip begins properly at Port Augusta, 330km north-east of Adelaide at the head of Spencer Gulf, a provincial city that services a vast area of semi-arid grazing and wheat growing country.

The Highway meets the sea at Ceduna, a small modern town on picturesque Murat Bay. On the outskirts of Ceduna is a warning sign about the last reliable water. This marks the end of cultivated country and the beginning of the deserted, almost treeless land that creeps towards the Nullarbor Plain. The highway stays close to the coast and there is always a little scrub and other vegetation on the plains or on the sand dunes that lie between the Highway and the ocean.

The name 'Nullarbor' derives its name from Latin for 'no trees' and the name is more than apt. The Eyre Highway crosses only a small section of true treeless plain. West of Ceduna is Penong, a town of 100 windmills, and breathtaking coastal beauty. Then on to Nundroo and south to the abandoned settlement of Fowlers Bay, once an exploration depot for Edward John Eyre and now a charming ghost town best known for its fishing. At the Yalata Aboriginal Community, there are genuine artefacts for sale.

Between Nullarbor and Border Village are five of the most spectacular coastal lookouts anywhere on the Australian coastline, where giant ocean swells pound the towering limestone cliffs that make up this part of the Great Australian Bight. From June to October, an added bonus is the chance of spotting the majestic Southern Right Whale on its annual migration along the southern part of the continent.

If planning a return journey, you may like to consider driving one way and placing the car on the train for the return trip, as many others do.

Important Reminder

  • There are limited Eftpos banking facilities.
  • There are limited fresh water supplies between Norseman and Ceduna.
  • Be sure to take on sufficient water for your journey.
  • There are quarantine checkpoints at Norseman for Westbound travellers and Ceduna for Eastbound travellers.
Prohibited or restricted items include potatoes, onions, fruit, walnuts, bird seed, other seed, plants, soil, animal skins and wool, livestock, grain, fodder, used fruit containers, used potato sacks, birds, rabbits, native fauna and honey.

All Photos courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

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